II – The Beginning

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All right then, let me start at the beginning (it’s usually best) of this journey. My introduction to Minimalism started in December 2015.

My partner, the mother of my children, my better half, my love, the woman of my life (you get the gist), is (was?) crazy about organisation, especially the 1000001 things in the house, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the closet, in the drawer, the box and the little bag with a little trinket inside the box.

Catarina’s continuous online research, on how to improve the way we store stuff around the house, led her to a 30 something minutes audio presentation by Joshua Becker describing his introduction to Minimalism.

Her eyes were wide open and there was something in her voice as she said “You have to listen to this!!”. I wasn’t too keen as I was making myself comfortable for a few hours in front of my laptop to binge watch the final episodes of ‘Justified’, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do and when she talks like that… I gotta do it.

“Yes dear” I said. And so it was that we both laid on the sofa, sharing a pair of ear plugs connected to her phone and let the man have his say.

All in all, the guy that got up from that sofa was not the same that had laid down in it just moments before. This audio generated a deep conversation between us that led to one conclusion: “We have too much shit, we should become minimalists!” I mean, he presented irrefutable arguments on how the things we own consume our most precious commodity… TIME!!

I started thinking (shocking I know) and reasoned that if my things keep draining something so very valuable from me, then the logical step is to get rid of them.

The approach agreed on is simple – if I don’t use it, if it doesn’t serve a purpose, or it doesn’t bring me any joy, then it’s dispensable because it is not bringing any value to my life, quite the contrary.

Catarina came to one simple and absolute realisation ‘If I don’t have it, then there is no need to organise it’. Aaaaaahhhhh, we had just identified some of the clutter in our lives and found the word ‘declutter’. What a word it is, but like most things in life it’s easier said than done… but it was on!

Since then things have been flying out of the house, the kitchen, the bedroom, the closet, the drawer and everywhere. Remember the box with the little bag that had the trinket inside? I don’t, it’s gone!

Between trash, sales and donations, THOUSANDS of things have done like Elvis and left the building. But this is addictive and I find myself looking around and thinking what can go next, what is it that I don’t use or need? So far we haven’t missed nor needed any of the items sold, donated or trashed.

It is embarrassing to realise how much stuff we have and how little we really use or need.

In the garage (where it was nearly impossible to walk) and in one of the bedrooms, there is now an echo. Which progresses my thoughts to “Do I really need a 3 bedroom house?” Anyway, before ‘Year 0’ (I’ll get to that) the idea of moving was not even contemplated as a possibility, but now everything seems is possible!

Clothing: bar undergarments, work and workout clothes I have left 42 items of clothing in my wardrobe. I still think the number is high, but these are early days and come mid-year I’ll count them again – go on now, stop reading and count yours, shocking isn’t it.

Having said that, the number is not really that important, the feeling I get when I open the closet is. Also, means less choice, less time wasted on one of the hundreds of choices we do daily.

I believe that the decluttering process is exactly that, a process… a never-ending game with always room for improvement. I have started it but am still far from getting where I want to be. I still have kept some stuff that I place sentimental value in, though I don’t use it nor does it bring me any joy. It’s just stuff that is taking up room and I am now aware that it will be gone soon – with some of the items, I’ll take a picture and smile about it when I chancily stumble on it years from now.

Another impressive way to keep the clutter out is to not let it in in the first place. I think this will be essential in the future, especially with the girls.

Keeping the clutter out involves deliberate consumption only (i.e. not impulsive) and having your loved ones know where you stand with gift-giving. We started asking our friends to give us their time and offer us experiences (tickets to a movie, concert, babysit our girls, a meal, etc) instead of shiny, well-intentioned, but useless things.

The memories I have of you are from the experiences we shared, not the stuff you gave me.

Diogo

(03/02/2016)

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5 thoughts on “II – The Beginning

  1. Can you be a selective minimalist?

    I could never get rid of stuff I don’t use laying around in my “shack”, I feel good there, surrounded by hundreds of tiny nuts, bolts, wires and old stuff.

    On the other hand I would gladly have a very tiny wardrobe.

    Getting rid of stuff is easy, but how to get rid of being interested in a lot of subjects? I don’t mean like not watching the news on TV, I’m beyond that point for some years now, it has in fact decluttered my mind, but how to stop getting yourself excited by (sometimes stupid) stuff that will eat away time ?

    Hope to find some answers here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Alexandre!

      When it comes to minimalism, I think we’re all selective in our approach to it. My goal is to keep only the stuff that I either use or brings me joy. Nuts and bolts around me bring me neither, but there you are, we’re all different.

      I would however suggest an experiment: put all the wires, bolts, nuts and old stuff in boxes and hide them away, and only take any of them out when you actually need it. See how it feels to have a decluttered “shack” (maybe the feeling will be of greater joy… or not) and check the boxes after one week, 1 month, 3 months to see how much stuff you really didn’t need.

      Getting rid of interests and stuff you get excited about? That is a good question and my advice is simple. Don’t.

      I don’t think we should get rid of the interests that excite us but rather work on them, one interest at a time though. Don’t spread your energy and focus on cultivating multiple interests simultaneously. I believe that if you dedicate your time entirely in developing one of them it’s easier to turn it into a passion.

      Start with the one that excites you the most, the one you think will bring you most value. Later on, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, or whatever time-frame suits your pursuit of that one interest, then move on to the next one.

      Mind decluttering is a very interesting notion. I believe physical decluttering goes hand-in-hand with it. Less visual pollution, clearer mind.

      Thanks for making me reflect.

      Like

    2. “Can you be a selective minimalist?”

      Sure you can Alex, minimalist is not about getting rid of everything, is about keeping the things that bring you joy and add value to your life. If your “shack” is your place to be and brings you joy, just have it like that.

      “How to get rid of being interested in a lot of subjects? …but how to stop getting yourself excited by () stuff that will eat away time.”

      I think firstly you need to differentiate what excites you and what is really an interest that you want to work hard and spend time.

      You can do that by asking yourself a few questions:
      Is this really going to add value to my life?
      Do I really want to spend my time on this?
      What is the outcome?
      Why do I want this outcome? What is the purpose of my outcome?

      For example I used to say that I would love to have my own Organic garden. I love organic food. But if I ask myself that same question now, I find that is just something that I like and I get excited with.
      I think, it brings value to my life, but honestly I’m not ready to spend much time on it. I would say that the purpose of the outcome is just to have delicious organic healthier meals from my veggie patch.

      So my interest is not learning about produce or putting my hands in the dirt, I’m just interest in the outcome itself, not the purpose. And I think, you have a real interest if you enjoy (most of the times) the journey not just the final outcome.

      Spend your time in your real interests, not in everything that excites you at the moment

      ” …it’s easy to get excited about a new idea, but quickly fall flat on your face because you no longer know why you wanted your outcome in the first place (i.e., you’ll lose interest).”
      “Essential: Essays by The Minimalists” by Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus

      Liked by 1 person

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